Brilliant is made with the loving efforts of dedicated math and science educators and lifelong
learners from MIT, Caltech, Duke, the University of Chicago, and more.
Director of Math
B.S. in Mathematics, MIT
Leader and teacher at the most prestigious US math circles
Zandra came to Brilliant because she couldn’t stop solving the problems after signing up. Before starting here, she was a curriculum developer at the Museum of Math in Manhattan and studied Math and Math Education at MIT. She’s passionate about impacting education globally and making critical thinking accessible… to anyone - which, fortunately, happens to be part of Brilliant’s mission as well.
Since joining Brilliant, Zandra has been able to cross several items off her bucket list - such as helping users understand Euler’s identity and explore the uses for imaginary numbers. While developing these courses, Zandra has also been teaching classes like “How to Cut a Cake” and “A Hardball Intro to Maxwell’s Equations” for local math circle after-school programs. Now, Zandra has the ability to impact students in her own neighborhood, as well as across the world.
“Most of why I teach is because I love when students have those 'AAAAH THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW' moments.”
Advanced Math Lead
Ph.D. in Mathematics, Johns Hopkins University; Ph.D. in Physics, UC Berkeley
Teacher with 11 years of experience
Patrick’s love for mathematics came from an initial fascination with astronomy. Realizing that understanding astrophysics would be impossible without advanced mathematics, he received advanced degrees in both areas. For his Ph.D. in Mathematics, he did research in minimal surface theory…, solving the so-called Plateau Problem in Alexandrov Spaces. For his Ph.D. in Physics, he investigated one possible route for quantizing gravity independently of string theory, and then transitioned into nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.
Patrick has been teaching college-level math for a total of 15 years. While teaching, he was able to see firsthand how the current methodology for instructing mathematics and science can fail to prepare students for independent work in these areas and even cause frustration and disillusionment. At Brilliant, he hopes to reach out to a broad audience, share his passion for math, and even help shape the future of math education.
“I hope to inspire new generations to pursue higher-levels of mathematics and provide the resources and guidance I didn’t have as a budding mathematician.”
M.S. in Mathematics,
University of Chicago
International Math Olympiad participant in 2001 and 2002
Calvin began noticing flaws with the education system in high school, when he found himself memorizing concepts instead of truly understanding them. In college, he learned how these concepts come together and form a larger framework, and he hasn’t looked back since….
Calvin has also excelled in several elite math competitions, including the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) and Putnam Competition. He also helped train students for the IMO and Putnam, an experience that sparked his interest in making Olympiad math more accessible to everyone. Since then, he has been a Counselor in the Young Scholars Program at University of Chicago, lectured in various math circles, and even taught the trader trainee class at Optiver, where he worked as an options trader. At Brilliant, his biggest goal is to improve how math and science are taught around the world.
“We do not need to train robots. What we need are independent, critical thinkers who can solve novel problems that no one knows exist yet.”
Foundational Science Lead
B.S. in Neuroscience,
Established and led the science department at Summit Tamalpais
Danielle started working in research labs when she was 14 and has built up experience across a breadth of scientific research, including chemistry, genetics, and molecular biology. With her research, Danielle successfully competed in several science and engineering competitions. She decided to pursue… her love for science at Duke University, where she studied the evolution of brain development and the neurobiology of vocal communication.
Before working at Brilliant, Danielle helped found an innovative, technology-based school in the Bay Area. There, she chaired the science department and developed a curriculum that encouraged students to build a deep understanding of scientific practices. As the Foundational Science Lead at Brilliant, she’s now creating content that brings together curious learners from all over the globe, challenges them, and motivates them to develop into critical thinkers, scientists, and engineers.
“I know how valuable it is to have access to a great STEM education. That’s why I love working at Brilliant, where there’s the possibility to reach students all over the world.”
Director of Science
Ph.D. in Biological Physics, The Scripps Research Institute
Published in Molecular Systems Biology
Josh was born in the greatest place on Earth — Long Island, New York. His earliest scientific memory is figuring out why wood and styrofoam float while rocks sink, which impressed his first grade teacher. In high school, a great chemistry class led Josh to a research position at Rockefeller University…, where he worked on RNA biology and fell in love... with living systems. Living systems are mysterious because they have extraneous details and occur in a realm that’s far away from well-understood physics. Still, bold and reproducible behaviors emerge from the maelstrom — how can this be?
Josh spent many years studying one such bold behavior: how growing cells allocate resources. The path to the answer involved an intriguing blend of coarse-grained statistical mechanics, years of midnights tending to E. coli dividing in sugar water, and several more years of data analysis. Solving the problem was only possible because a diverse group of people were able to see connections between traditionally distant fields (e.g. physics and biology) and use them to unmask relationships that had lay hidden for generations. Sadly, though the difficulty of gathering information is at an all-time low, educational systems encourage specialization and narrow understanding. This is a dangerous trend Josh hopes to reverse with Brilliant.
Applied Science Lead
M.S. in Materials Science and Applied Physics, Caltech
11 publications, 4 biotech patents; science consultant for Bones and CSI
Blake owes a lot of his interest in science to numerous family pets and the Dewey Decimal system. While taking care of his dogs, cats, lizards, parrots, and snakes, he developed a love for the natural world and explored the neighborhood library for more information. The chemistry, physics, and biology books… were right next to the Animals and Plants section; the rest of the story writes itself.
After stumbling upon these subjects, Blake pursued them more seriously by studying nanotechnology engineering at the University of Waterloo, and applied physics at Caltech. He continued his random walk through scientific fields as a Howard Hughes research fellow investigating molecular recognition and personalized medicine while lecturing in both physical chemistry and chemical physics.
To Blake, Brilliant is a step up from the library in that it stresses the interconnectedness of science and teaches interactively. Learning facts in a classroom couldn’t be further from real math and science - asking questions is a more effective and fun way to learn.
“The easiest way to teach is through lectures, but it’s hard to learn that way. We make the effort to teach the hard way, through crafting challenging and interactive problems.”
Advanced Science Lead
Ph.D. in Physics,
Penn State University
Designed and taught college courses on topics in physics and AI
Aaron’s preoccupation with puzzles started in elementary school and later shifted to a passion for exploring how the universe works. He entered Cornell University as a math major, but after seeing how the formalism of vector calculus was applied in physics courses, he decided to finish undergraduate… degrees in both math and physics.
After graduating, he studied self-organizing pattern formation in networks of idealized neurons and discovered the great joy of converting science naysayers into science admirers. He was an Assistant Professor of Physics at Bridgewater College and joined Brilliant in 2016, where he’s still seeking new ways of presenting science to make it interesting and fun for scientists and nonscientists alike.
“The common thread through my teaching has been posing questions that compel students to think creatively, like scientists, instead of algorithmically, like computers.”
B.S. in Mathematics, MIT
Director of Harvard-MIT math tournament; USA Mathematical Olympiad 2009
After qualifying for the USA Mathematical Olympiad, winning engineering competitions, and organizing one of the largest math tournaments in Florida, Eli decided to drop out of high school at age 16 to pursue a degree in Mathematics at MIT. While at MIT, Eli honed his broader desire to use data and logic… to understand the world around us. He applied these skills as a quantitative derivatives trader, but soon realized he wanted to make a more meaningful impact on a broader scale. At Brilliant, Eli uses his math and computer science background to develop problem-solving based courses that enable anyone to learn modern, quantitative skills - no expensive summer program required.
“My hope is to democratize access to cutting-edge quantitative literacy. Without that, most people will be shut out of the critical decisions shaping our collective future.”
Over 70 instructors and researchers from around the world have contributed to the courses on Brilliant.